Sunday, November 22, 2009

In the Belly of the Beast...

It has been said, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." In that spirit, I attended an Education Minnesota political action workshop in St. Paul this weekend. To say that I felt like a fish out of water would be a gross understatement. To be fair, a number of my colleagues were there, whom I consider to count as friends and good people. But (not surprisingly) despite claims of nonpartisanship, the proceedings were anything but. The keynote speaker of the event was none other than Congressman Tim Walz. (click here for the entire speech)
Basically, it was a boilerplate stump speech, but since Mr. Walz considered himself among friends, he probably said a few things he many not have otherwise said.

A former social studies teacher himself, Walz stated that he began his teaching career teaching in the People's Republic of China (for reasons I'll explain later, I'm not surprised). Walz spoke of the impetus for his running for Congress. Specifically, he told of a time when he took two of his students to meet President Bush in Washington. Walz stated that his two students were not allowed to see the President because one of them had a John Kerry for President sticker. He related that he immediately called his wife and told her that he wanted to run for congress.

With respect to Obamacare, Walz first proclaimed "There are no death panels." Walz then went on to explain how his vote for Obamacare was a "proud vote" and an "easy vote" to cast. He went on to rail against the Tea Party movement, saying he was relieved to finally speak in front of a group "that wasn't swearing at (him)" He described the Tea Party movement as motivated and organized, but motivated "for the wrong reasons." He stated, dripping with condescension, that he was "amazed" at how many people had become "Constitutional scholars" during the month of August. Walz proclaimed that the Tea Party folks were "motivated to use the Constitution as a wall." (well, Congressman, that's exactly what the Constitution is, is a wall of protection of the people and limits the powers of government). With regard to the "Read the Bill" signs, Walz stated he read the bill," and that a Tea Party attendee then stated, "It's over 2000 pages," to which Walz reportedly retorted, "So I guess the Berenstain Bears are superior to The Grapes of Wrath, because it has fewer pages."

To me, it was amazing that a guy who served over 20 years in the National Guard could so cavalierly speak of the document which he swore an oath to protect. Walz also didn't miss the chance to take gratuitous swipes at Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, as well as at his predecessor, Congressman Jim Ramstad. Walz did state that he felt that the governor's race was the most important race in Minnesota, and that he would release his entire campaign staff to work to have the endorsed DFL candidate elected governor.

After Walz spoke, it was off to congressional-district breakout sessions, where attendees were shown the DFL caucus process, and how attendees could get themselves elected as delegates. They stated that although they were cough non-partisan, they chose the DFL process because there were reportedly no Republican candidates who bothered to fill out the Ed MN candidate screening form.

I must say, however, that all was not lost. The next morning there was an outreach session held to accommodate the few Republican attendees at the convention. During that session (which was attended by some democrats, as well) an Education Minnesota Republican Caucus was formed, with around 30 signatories, including myself (there were between 300 and 400 total attendees to the convention proper). The stated aim of the caucus is to bring education issues to the Republican party. But again, one of the session organizers, who I believe was himself a fairly liberal democrat, brought up the issue of getting rid of Charter Schools and Home Schools (which I happen to be for; as I believe competition to be an important factor in increasing the quality of education), and exhorted us to bring the issue to the Republican platform.

Yes, I'm a public school educator. But I'm first and foremost an American, and I realize that not everything that is in the self-serving interest of public school educators is compatible with what is in the interest of America as a nation. I just wish the union and educators in general would recognize that, as well.

Well, Rome wasn't built in a day. The educational agency for which I work didn't organize into a union until just over a year ago. While I was against joining a union, as long as it was going to be thrust upon me, I decided that if I was for all intents and purposes going to join a union, I would have a say in how it's run. I therefore became our local's vice president last year, and I am secretary this year.

As I always say, the future belongs to those who show up. One could sit and whine and complain until the cows come home. But it is the one that becomes involved that can ultimately actually make a difference. Since we ultimately have a stake in the outcomes in terms of how traditionally liberal leaning organizations operate, it is our duty as conservatives to take a seat at the table once in a while and say, "Not so fast, here!"

I hope that more conservatives will consider getting involved, as well.